Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Plugging the gap

Over recent years all councils have faced the same dilemma – how to deliver good quality services for their residents in the face of considerable financial pressures.

There is a growing demand for council services at the same time as council budgets are being squeezed.

West Sussex County Council currently spends more than £500m a year on services.   That sounds like a huge amount of money but we provide 80 per cent of all public services that are delivered to 821,560 West Sussex residents.

Some 12,651 elderly residents received care and support from us last year and 108,446 children went to school in West Sussex.

So whether we are dealing with the waste that comes out of your bins, filling the potholes on the roads you drive along, or sending our fire fighters out to help in an emergency, West Sussex is here for you 365 days a year.  
However, like all local authorities, West Sussex cannot escape the simple fact that demand for our services is growing at the same time as our income is shrinking.

We have made considerable savings over the last five years and have transformed how we work to become more efficient but more needs to be done.

The number of families living in West Sussex is rising and the numbers of elderly people living in the county is growing.  

Although we are looking at new and innovative ways to raise or save money, there is not enough to plug the gap.  

So the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) last week is really important as it provides much greater clarity over what funding we can expect from Government over the coming years and where we need to make savings.

Over the next few weeks there may well be speculation about what the Chancellor’s announcement means for West Sussex.

What I can say is now we have this clarity we will be working flat out on the detail of the CSR to see how we can deliver the best services we can for residents while facing up to our financial pressures. 

This detailed work will continue into the early New Year and I will keep you posted on progress.

We have a considerable amount of savings to make over the coming years and this will mean taking some difficult decisions.  

I can promise, however, that we will leave no stone unturned to make sure that we can deliver the best services we can for every West Sussex family.

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